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Who’s really running the major parties

Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. Picture: AP/Tracey Nearmy
Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk. Picture: AP/Tracey Nearmy

ANNASTACIA Palaszczuk and Tim Nicholls have been crisscrossing the state as they battle to convince voters to back them all the way to State Parliament.

But while the duo serve as the public faces of their political parties, behind the scenes a team of businessmen, union leaders, political staffers and strategists are driving their campaigns to win.

They are rarely known and rarely talked about. But these men and women themselves wield a lot of power in Queensland.

In the red corner, behind Palaszczuk, stands Labor state secretary Evan Moorhead, described by many in the party and his faction as the "voice of reason" for his usually calm demeanour.

He runs the state Labor Party with the help of assistant state secretary Jon Persley - of the Right - and president John Battams.

The operatives behind Annastacia Palaszczuk and Tim Nicholls have been unmasked.
The operatives behind Annastacia Palaszczuk and Tim Nicholls have been unmasked.

They are supported by union leaders across the factions, including powerful Left union leaders United Voice acting state secretary Sharron Caddie, CFMEU state secretary Michael Ravbar, and Queensland Council of Unions president Ros McLennan.

In the blue corner, the circle is smaller but the influence is just as strong.

Businessman Gary Spence serves as president of the Liberal-National Party after succeeding Bruce McIver.

Spence is aided by two vice-presidents in David Hutchinson and Cameron O'Neil, as well as state director Michael O'Dywer - who returned to the fold in 2016 after a brief hiatus - and campaign director Lincoln Folo.

Beside Nicholls at all times is his chief-of-staff, Gerard Benedet, a former deputy campaign director for the party who worked as Nicholls' right-hand man when he was appointed treasurer in 2012.

LABOR

Ros McLennan
Ros McLennan

Leader of the Queensland Council of Unions, McLennan has been part of the union movement for more than 20 years and plays a key role in organising campaigns across the state.

She was also a leading figure in the successful campaign to bring in fixed four-year parliamentary terms for the Queensland Parliament.

Touted as a future Labor Senate candidate, McLennan attracted controversy in 2016 when the QCU gave $160,000 worth of support to former senator Glenn Lazarus' failed re-election bid in 2015.

Cameron Milner
Cameron Milner

Most recently defined by his job lobbying on behalf of Adani, Milner has been a powerful figure in the Right of the Labor Party for more than 20 years.

He served as state secretary of Queensland Labor, as well as chief of staff to Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten.

He has repeatedly been courted to serve as chief of staff to Annastacia Palaszczuk but has resisted the advances. He was brought in to help reset Palaszczuk's campaign after its horror start.

Kirby Anderson (pictured with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk)
Kirby Anderson (pictured with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk)

Anderson is currently serving as deputy chief of staff to Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk and is considered one of her closest advisers.

A former journalist, Anderson also previously worked for Palaszczuk's father, Henry. He left government to work in the private sector but was enticed back at the start of 2016.

Jon Persley
Jon Persley

A Right faction leader, Persley was appointed Queensland Labor's assistant state secretary in 2014.

A seasoned campaigner, he previously worked for former federal treasurer Wayne Swan and as a national organiser for the party. He is widely expected to enter State Parliament in future.

Susan McGrady
Susan McGrady

A former private sector corporate affairs director, McGrady first worked in the Palaszczuk Government as an adviser to Deputy Premier Jackie Trad before moving to the Premier's office.

McGrady is the daughter of former minister and Speaker Tony McGrady.

David Barbagallo
David Barbagallo

A former senior adviser to former Queensland premier the late Wayne Goss, Barbagallo was brought back into the fold this year to ease divisions in the Premier's office following the departure of her chief-of-staff Angela MacDonagh.

Michael Ravbar
Michael Ravbar

CFMEU heavyweight Ravbar is a polarising figure in the Labor Party. A key target of the Federal Government's trade union inquiry, Ravbar has spent less time in public of late but still wields significant power behind the scenes.

Eamonn Fitzpatrick
Eamonn Fitzpatrick

A former journalist turned Labor strategist, Fitzpatrick has played a role in multiple state and federal election campaigns.

He was dubbed the agent of infection by Tim Nicholls when he started working for former premier Anna Bligh ahead of the 2012 election campaign.

Sharon Caddie
Sharon Caddie

Caddie was appointed acting state secretary of the powerful Left union United Voice this year to give fellow powerbroker Gary Bullock time off for health reasons.

The union has seven MPs in Parliament, including Cabinet ministers Steven Miles, Coralee O'Rourke and Mick de Brenni.

John Battams
John Battams

Battams assumed the presidency of Queensland Labor in 2016 after a stint as Queensland Council of Unions president.

An Old Guard factional leader, Battams is a former schoolteacher who has played a leading role in multiple election campaigns for the party.

Evan Moorhead
Evan Moorhead

A powerful Left figure in the party, Moorhead was elected as the Member for Waterford in 2006.

He lasted two terms before being voted out in Labor's election drubbing of 2012. He swiftly replaced Jackie Trad as assistant state secretary before rising to state secretary in 2014.

LNP

Gary Spence
Gary Spence

Spence, a successful businessman considered to be one of the architects of the Liberal and National Party merger, was appointed president of the LNP at the end of 2015.

He had previously served as vice-president to Bruce McIver before taking the reins unopposed following McIver's retirement. He also previously served as Liberal Party president.

David Moore
David Moore

A co-director of lobbying firm Next Level Strategic Services alongside Cameron Milner, Moore played a key role in the LNP's historic win at the 2012 election.

He has previously worked in various roles in government, including as a chief of staff in the Howard government.

Moore is understood to be only playing a small role in this campaign, offering occasional advice.

Shaun Rigby
Shaun Rigby

A former journalist, Rigby joined Tim Nicholls as his deputy chief of staff (communications) in January as the Opposition office began readying itself for the election.

He had previously worked for PR firm Sequel and, before that, in Tasmania as both a political reporter and a media adviser for the Tasmanian Department of Premier and Cabinet.

Jeff Seeney
Jeff Seeney

Seeney - who is retiring from politics at the election after serving as the Member for Callide since 1998 - is a key ally of Tim Nicholls.

The former deputy premier has at times had an acrimonious relationship with party headquarters but is currently serving as an experienced, steady hand through the campaign.

Bruce McIver
Bruce McIver

One of the main men behind the merger of the LNP, McIver served as party president until 2015 before stepping down to concentrate on his work in the private sector.

A significant power player in conservative politics, McIver still has a lot of influence.

 

Matthew Jeffries
Matthew Jeffries

Jeffries is serving as director of policy for Tim Nicholls in the Opposition office and has played a key role in developing the party's election platform.

He previously served as a senior adviser and as deputy chief of staff to Nicholls when he was treasurer.

Lincoln Folo
Lincoln Folo

A former federal staffer, Folo initially replaced Brad Henderson as state director before taking over as campaign director in 2015 ahead of the 2016 federal election.

Folo has been instrumental in the running of Tim Nicholls' campaign.

Gerard Benedet
Gerard Benedet

A former federal staffer and deputy campaign director for the LNP, Benedet signed up as Tim Nicholls' chief of staff after the LNP's big win in 2012.

He left briefly towards the end of the Newman government's term but rejoined Nicholls' team after he took over as LNP leader.

Michael O'Dwyer
Michael O'Dwyer

O'Dwyer served as state director of the LNP from 2008 to 2012, rejoining again in 2016. He helped run several election campaigns.

Labor called for his sacking in 2011 after he and then campaign director turned senator James McGrath were implicated in commissioning "dirt files" on Labor MPs.

Topics:  editors picks greens labor lnp qldelection2017



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